Unsure of how I should respond to that, I try to get back to the matter at hand. “So, what do any of his affairs have to do with me?”
“Well, he left them all to you.”
“What?” I exclaim. “Why?”
“I assume it’s because you’re his only living relative, but I suppose I can’t really answer for sure.”
I sit in shock for a moment because I truly can’t fathom why a man who seemingly wanted nothing to do with me my entire life suddenly puts me in his will. Is this some sort of penance he’s trying to atone for?
The lawyer pulls me from my thoughts. “Shall we go over what he’s left you?”
I shake my head, trying to snap back into the moment. “Of course. Please begin.”
He pulls an 8x10 photo out of an envelope and hands it to me.
He says, “This house is now yours.”
“A house?” I ask, taking the photo out of his hands. Sure enough, it shows an old farmhouse with a large wrap-around porch. It looks awfully big for just one person. I’m sure at one point, it was beautiful, but now it looks pretty dilapidated.
“Where is this?” I ask.
A small town called Maple Oaks, Texas.
Texas? What am I supposed to do with a house in Texas?
“This house used to belong to my father? It doesn’t look like it’s been lived in for quite some time,” I say.
“He bought the house awhile ago, determined to fix it up. But unfortunately, it just fell further into disarray. I couldn't tell you why. Honestly, I didn't know Samuel all that well, but he seemed to be a good man."
I could argue with him about how I don’t think running out on your woman and child makes you a good man. But why bother?
The sour taste in my mouth makes me not want to deal with anything my father had any interest in.
“So, I can just sell it, right?” I ask.
“I’m afraid not.”
“What do you mean?” My tone signals my annoyance.
“There are some conditions for you taking possession of the property.”
“Conditions?” I ask, crossing my arms over my chest.
“I’m afraid so. For starters, you may not sell the house. Your father insisted that it stay in the family. You may pass it on to whomever you wish in the event of your death or after a period of twenty years.”
Well, isn’t that cheerful?
He goes on. “You’re welcome to rent it out, but I will warn you that the house needs a lot of work. And another stipulation is that you need to be there to supervise any renovations that take place.”
“What?” I cry. “That’s insane. I live in Boston.” I say the words slowly, trying to convey my shock.
“I understand that, Miss Mathis. The house is over a hundred years old. Your father wanted to ensure that it’s adequately taken care of.”
Why care now? He didn’t seem to take care of it when it was alive.
A million thoughts run through my head. Having a property to rent out doesn’t necessarily sound like a bad thing. But I’m not sure if all the hassle is worth it. Renovations are expensive.
“Did thiswonderfulfather of mine leave me any money for these renovations?” I ask with a slight eye roll.